Flora 717 is a bee apart from the rest of her countless sisters. Despite being born a sanitation worker, which puts her squarely in the lowest echelon of hive hierarchy, Flora possesses talents that make her special. But uniqueness is not a quality that bees value, and so Flora is regarded with wariness and scorn wherever she goes.
The tension is compounded by the fact that all is not well in the hive. The summer has produced a meager bounty and, worse, bees are being born with physical deformities. These deformities mean instant death, and the hive police are all too eager to carry out the morbid task. Meanwhile, the Sage priestesses, keepers of all the hive’s knowledge and rituals, seem preoccupied and cagey.
The only thing keeping the hive together is the all-pervading scent of love that flows from the exalted Queen. Flora worships the Queen just as much as any of her sisters, but she can’t shake the feeling that something is very wrong. When push comes to shove, Flora will do anything to ensure the prosperity of her hive—even if it means breaching her people’s greatest taboo.
Author Laline Paull has taken the fascinating world of honey bees and woven it into an intricate and intriguing narrative. I recommend this book to nature lovers and those looking for a serious story with a unique point of view.